We’re addicted – to Florida State Parks! This is our second one and it was a wonderful as the Florida Caverns, but in a different way. Initially, we were a bit underwhelmed. We were warned by our tent camping neighbor the falls weren’t big, but they did go deep. So as soon as we set up camp (we only drove 25 miles to this park), we took a quick hike to see the falls. We were surprised to see a sweet little beach and very nice trails and “board walks” around the sink holes. Well, our neighbor was right, these were not really big falls, but they were still a sight to behold. Then we figured out this park isn’t very big either! We love to hike and thought we would have longer hikes in this park. Click here for our official review of the park.
Here are pictures of day one, Friday, February 27, 2015:
Day 2, Saturday, February 28, 2015 pictures. Not the best photography and I forgot to turn on the Map My Hike app. We guessed it had to be three miles and we were panting up and down a few hills:
We hadn’t had an opportunity to build a campfire, so we were able to have a fire each night. We are focusing on the positive, but there was a family reunion nearby that had many “wild” children (with little to no adult supervision) running around and bike riding down the hill in front of our campsite. Our immediate neighbors were great, but for first 3 days, these precious children were rambunctious but we knew this environment was good for them…so we tried to not let it bother us! And we hoped and prayed none of them got hurt. While that hindered the solitude we wanted to enjoy, we loved the fact we could just walk from our camper to a hike. At least it was quiet on our walks as the children at least stayed on the pavement!
We went to First Baptist Church of Chipley Sunday morning. We were amazed this little town had three services. We really enjoyed the second service which had a great mix of hymns and contemporary worship. The sermon was what we needed to hear and the people very welcoming. We were encouraged to not be shy about our faith, to reevaluate our “mission.” So we did and vowed to try to reach out more and to really not let a bunch of wild children get to us! So upon arrival back to camp, it seemed deserted! Everyone was gone – except the hosts and a few campers who never were there. So we began to really relax, enjoy the quiet, prepared lunch and were looking forward to more exploring. We took the complete fence line trail around the campground and were disappointed to learn it was only 2.36 miles! But those hills and changing terrain still gave us a good workout.
Then about mid day, we heard a lot of noise….there goes the peace and quiet! We saw two trucks and a bunch of college aged men setting up camp….and they seemed a bit rowdy….
I had to go check them out….and “reach out.” They said they were on spring break from Florida College. We’ve lived in Florida for 10 years and we’ve never heard of the college, so I googled it when I returned to the camper. It’s a small Christian college so when the guys said they wouldn’t be wild, I knew we had nothing to worry about. Slowly, the campground filled up again.
We built our campfire the third night and began to enjoy the warmth and solitude. But then I began to hear men singing, softly. Bill thought it was road noise from I-10. It was the first time we could hear the traffic a little, but I thought I heard “hallelujah.” I kept straining and finally had to sneak over to listen. I heard a song I love, “Blessed be the name of the Lord” so then I knew it was the 8 young men, sitting around their campfire, singing praise and worship songs. What a blessing to hear their sweet melodies in this serene setting! We made brief introductions and it was so rewarding to learn about their plans for their future employment, all very diverse. They invited us over to join them, but since we had our fire going and neither wanted to embarrass ourselves with our weak voices. Well, Bill can carry a tune, but I say I sing monotone and am tone deaf! But we enjoyed their singing.
Monday, March 2, 2015: We still needed two tires after our one flat in Crystal River. Bill decided we should replace all four tires on the camper. So we spent a lot of time trying to find someone who sells this unusual tire size. It was looking hopeless to find the tire, but then we found a tire store in Marianna sold them. That was near the Florida Caverns State Park. We kicked ourselves that we didn’t search for them sooner since we were staying there. But to be honest, we had too much fun to even think about the tire situation. So we made Monday a work day. Bill dropped me off to do our laundry in Chipley, then he drove the 25 miles back to Marianna.
On the way back in to the campground, we saw a van setting up a directional sign into the campground. We wondered what that might bring. It turned out to be about a group of about 16 cyclists on an adventure ride begin arriving in mid-afternoon. Two campsites next to us filled up with tents and bike gear while their coordinator set up the kitchen, dining and equipment area next to the young men. These cyclists were mostly young to middle aged adults on “vacation.” They rode 60 miles to the campground, from St. Andrew State Park in Panama City Beach. They were going to ride about 350 miles over 6 days. I later learned “Adventure Cycling” is a nationwide non-profit that promotes cycling.
Here are more pictures of the sites around us, focusing on the new neighbors, the cyclists and the young men’s campsite:
And finally, our last day here and more pics of things I forgot to photograph!
Our challenge for this State Park experience was to learn to conserve water as this site only had water and electricity. We were pleased to report at the end, we can make it for 5 days! Bill did carry a 5 gallon bucket of our kitchen water to the dishwashing station each day. We couldn’t conserve on water while we cooked and did our dishes in scalding water.
So in summary, the highlights to this campground was making friends with these 8 young men – they came over and convinced us to join them our last night there; meeting the adventure cyclists (if my knees were better, I could see riding along with them); the daily hikes, even if shorter than we prefer, they were hilly enough to challenge us; nightly campfires, especially the night we enjoyed singing with the young men around their campfire; and learning we can now camp for 5 nights without sewer hook ups.
So now I have 8 new young friends on FaceBook and I keep singing, to myself and the Lord only, “In Christ Alone” – which we all sang around the campfire our last night here. What GREAT memories and new friends we made!